I love working with people, but sometimes it tries to eat me alive.
I love to listen. I love to help. I love to troubleshoot and problem-solve and fix. I love to strategize with others, I love to create a plan of attack with a team, I love getting people excited to try and win. I love to talk about hard things honestly and vulnerably with people who might not have done so otherwise. I love especially to lift people up, to help them recognize what they are AMAZING at, to remind them why they are special and unique and talented and needed. I love to lead.
Most of the time, doing these activities fills my bucket and keep me whole, regardless of the results I get. Every once in a while, though, it’s just not enough.
Last Wednesday was one of those days. I worked and talked with teammate after teammate after teammate all day long, and NOT ONE of them seemed lifted. NOT ONE got their problem solved. NOT ONE left me energized or enthusiastic or joyful. If I heard, “It is what it is,” one more time, I was going to kill someone. I tried and I tried and I gave all I had, but it just wasn’t enough, and I ended the day absolutely dejected and feeling useless. I tossed and I turned after I got in bed that night, and I finally cried myself to sleep, only to wake up three hours later, riddled with anxiety about a lot of stuff at work that is entirely out of my control.
And so on Thursday, I did something I almost *never* do. I called in sick. The last time I did this, I was mid-miscarriage.
The alarm rang, and I felt like I was going to vomit at the thought of getting up…even though it would only require me walking ten feet and turning on the computer at my desk. I just couldn’t face the world. So I pecked out an email to my boss telling him the brief truth: I just wasn’t feeling well. I crawled back under the covers to try to rest.
I got up a few hours later and weakly played with the kids for a while so Don could catch a break. I would love to tell you I made the most of the day with them, but in all honesty, I wasn’t particularly happy or fun or good at playing robot hide and seek or flip the hamburger or any of their other made-up games anyway. I felt psychosomatically nauseous all day. By nap time, my temper was short and I was yelling, which led to me crying yet again.
So I took a nap myself…for most of the rest of the day. I woke up periodically, tried to get up, felt moody and stressed and sorry for myself, apologized profusely to Don for being such an incredible crank, and then crawled back into bed. I had dinner and helped put the kids to bed, but that was about it before I took a shower and turned in for the night.
And you know what? On Friday, I felt 1000% better. Did I have any epiphanies or brilliant ideas while I was down for the count? Nope. Did work situations get magically better while I took some time to rest? Absolutely not.
I think I just needed a minute to regroup and get my bearings, which we don’t often give ourselves…but we SHOULD. Could I have sucked it up on Thursday, turned on my computer, and suffered through a workday from home? Absolutely. I was not dying or bleeding out. But at work (and at home and in life, really), I recognize that one of the most important things I do is share energy. I knew I was NOT in the place to put out any good vibes, and so I stayed home and got myself together. A little grace for myself went a long way, and on Friday I was back in the saddle…cheerful and hopeful and ready to take on the world again…feeling like I was radiating the frequency I *want* to put out into the world.
Energy, like Covid or the flu…it’s freaking CONTAGIOUS. Right now, my heart goes out to the doctors and the teachers and the restaurant and small business workers and single parents who DON’T have the luxury of being able to give themselves a bit of grace despite being absolutely next-level exhausted from plowing through this pandemic. My heart breaks for those that just. need. a tiny, little break. Because giving yourself a day to be poop now and then really does lead to a faster mental recovery. And that can do a world of good for the soul.